Bok bench key in Salta

Morné Steyn’s inclusion in the Springbok match-day squad indicates that coach Allister Coetzee is taking no chances ahead of a must-win clash with Argentina, writes JON CARDINELLI.

Last week in Nelspruit, the Boks scored 17 points against Argentina in the final 12 minutes to win 30-23. In the aftermath, coach Allister Coetzee declared himself satisfied with the make-up of the 23-man Bok squad.

This week, however, Coetzee has been forced to make a few changes to the side that scored a late win at the Mbombela Stadium. The injury to Julian Redelinghuys sees Vincent Koch starting at tighthead prop and Lourens Adriaanse joining the squad on the bench. The selection of Steyn ahead of Juan de Jongh could also be viewed as forced, as Coetzee needs another goal-kicking option on the bench.

Elton Jantjies was the first-choice goal-kicker for the Boks in Nelspruit last week. Johan Goosen was called on to attempt a couple of penalty goals that were outside Jantjies’s range. Between Jantjies and Goosen, South Africa missed four of their 10 shots on goal. Had the Boks lost, more would have been made of the 12 points that went begging due to the lack of accuracy.

Coetzee has opted to start Jantjies and Goosen again this week in Salta. One would expect Jantjies to continue as the first-choice kicker, and Goosen to take the long-range attempts.

However, Coetzee has included an insurance policy on the bench. The Bok coach will know what he has in Steyn as a game manager and goal-kicker. No doubt Coetzee will remember what happened the last time the Boks visited Salta. If not for the efforts of the South African bench, and Steyn in particular, the Boks would have lost that match.

Steyn replaced Handré Pollard and proceeded to make his mark with some accurate tactical kicking. He also showed his nerve to nail three important goal kicks, the last of which edged South Africa into the lead in the 77th minute.

The Boks will be hoping for a better start this week. They will hope that the forwards produce a stronger showing against their Argentinian counterparts, and that Jantjies and Goosen convert the pressure into points.

The fact that Steyn has been included on the bench, however, suggests that Coetzee isn’t overly confident.

History shows that Rugby Championship Tests between Argentina and South Africa in this part of the world are typically close affairs. It may be left to the veteran flyhalf to boot the Boks out of trouble this Saturday.

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

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Jon Cardinelli